CORAL GABLES, Fla. — NCAA investigators spent several days in Miami earlier this month as part of the continued inquiry into the Hurricanes’ athletic compliance practices, said two people familiar with the situation.
It’s unknown when the investigation will end, both people told The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because information about the probe has not been publicly released. When the probe is over, Miami would first receive a notice of allegations, then have the chance to appear before the NCAA’s infractions committee.
Typically, when investigators visit a campus, they are either conducting interviews with athletic department personnel, reviewing documents, or both. The NCAA generally does not provide status updates during their investigations, and university officials only have said they are continuing to cooperate with the terms of the inquiry.
Earlier this week, safety Ray-Ray Armstrong was dismissed for undisclosed rules violations. Armstrong was suspended for four games last year after acknowledging he took money from former booster Nevin Shapiro and then missed another game while the school checked to see if he broke other rules after he interacted with a person who works with professional athletes.
So nearly a year after the Hurricanes became wrapped up in an extra-benefits scandal — and with training camp fast approaching, along with Atlantic Coast Conference media days starting this weekend — Miami still has plenty of questions and very few answers.
“Who doesn’t want a clean slate? We get a fresh opportunity to do something new,” running back Mike James said earlier this summer when asked if the Hurricanes were eager to put the troubles of 2011 behind them. “Hey, I’m happy to see last year go. It’s gone. Let it go.”
Hurricanes coach Al Golden, whose first season in Miami was marred even before it started by the Shapiro accusations, is expected to address reporters about the state of the team and expectations for 2012 in Greensboro, N.C. on Monday at the ACC preseason kickoff event.
Miami could still face heavy sanctions from the NCAA over the scandal sparked by the claims Shapiro — the convicted and now imprisoned architect of a $930 million Ponzi scheme — aired in an article published by Yahoo Sports last August. Eight Miami players missed at least one game as part of sanctions the NCAA imposed over Shapiro’s claims, and four others had to make small restitution payments.
It was the first blow in an academic year filled with compliance-related issues.
Men’s basketball was hit multiple times, first with the suspension of DeQuan Jones after he was linked to Shapiro — Jones was ultimately allowed to return to the team — and then suspensions of two other players. Reggie Johnson missed a game after the joint compliance investigation showed members of his family accepted “impermissible travel benefits” from a member of the school’s former coaching staff. And guard Durand Scott, the Hurricanes’ leading scorer, was suspended just before Miami’s ACC tournament game with Florida State after he was also found to have gotten unspecified extra benefits.
Even Miami’s nationally ranked women’s basketball team had problems, with star guard Riquna Williams suspended for violating team — not NCAA — rules just before the Hurricanes went to the NCAA tournament. Without Williams, Miami was ousted in the second round.
But those matters pale to the ongoing inquiry into football, Miami’s centerpiece program with five national championships since 1983. And it’s long been clear that the uncertainty — what rules were broken and how tough will the penalties be — will linger into this coming season, just as it overshadowed every step of the 2011 campaign.
“You’ve just got to go forward and put the past in the past,” Miami quarterback Stephen Morris said earlier this offseason. “Last year was rough for everybody, for every sport here. I’m sure everybody is just excited to move on.”